Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects over 150 million people worldwide. In most cases, HCV infection becomes chronic causing liver disease ranging from fibrosis to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Viral persistence and pathogenesis are due to the ability of HCV to deregulate specific host processes, mainly lipid metabolism and innate immunity. In particular, HCV exploits the lipoprotein machineries for almost all steps of its life cycle. The aim of this review is to summarize current knowledge concerning the interplay between HCV and lipoprotein metabolism. We discuss the role played by members of lipoproteins in HCV entry, replication and virion production.
Apolipoproteins; Hepatitis C virus; Lipid metabolism; Lipoproteins; Review
Autophagy controls cell homeostasis and provides a rapid response to a variety of stresses. Although many steps of the autophagy process have been elucidated, how they are temporally regulated is less well characterized. Recently, we reported that dynamic interaction of the pro-autophagic factor AMBRA1 with CULLIN E3 ubiquitin ligases ensures the timely onset and termination of the autophagy response.
autophagy; AMBRA1; ubiquitin proteasome system; DEPTOR; ELONGIN B; DDB1
The new concept of Immunogenic Cell Death (ICD), associated with Damage Associated Molecular Patterns (DAMPs) exposure and/or release, is recently becoming very appealing in cancer treatment. In this context, PhotoDynamic Therapy (PDT) can give rise to ICD and to immune response upon dead cells removal. The list of PhotoSensitizers (PSs) able to induce ICD is still short and includes Photofrin, Hypericin, Foscan and 5-ALA. The goal of the present work was to investigate if Rose Bengal Acetate (RBAc), a powerful PS able to trigger apoptosis and autophagy, enables photosensitized HeLa cells to expose and/or release pivotal DAMPs, i.e. ATP, HSP70, HSP90, HMGB1, and calreticulin (CRT), that characterize ICD. We found that apoptotic HeLa cells after RBAc-PDT exposed and released, early after the treatment, high amount of ATP, HSP70, HSP90 and CRT; the latter was distributed on the cell surface as uneven patches and co-exposed with ERp57. Conversely, autophagic HeLa cells after RBAc-PDT exposed and released HSP70, HSP90 but not CRT and ATP. Exposure and release of HSP70 and HSP90 were always higher on apoptotic than on autophagic cells. HMGB1 was released concomitantly to secondary necrosis (24 h after RBAc-PDT). Phagocytosis assay suggests that CRT is involved in removal of RBAc-PDT generated apoptotic HeLa cells. Altogether, our data suggest that RBAc has all the prerequisites (i.e. exposure and/or release of ATP, CRT, HSP70 and HSP90), that must be verified in future vaccination experiments, to be considered a good PS candidate to ignite ICD. We also showed tha CRT is involved in the clearance of RBAc photokilled HeLa cells. Interestingly, RBAc-PDT is the first cancer PDT protocol able to induce the translocation of HSP90 and plasma membrane co-exposure of CRT with ERp57.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is one of the main causes of chronic liver disease. Viral persistence and pathogenesis rely mainly on the ability of HCV to deregulate specific host processes, including lipid metabolism and innate immunity. Recently, autophagy has emerged as a cellular pathway, playing a role in several aspects of HCV infection. This review summarizes current knowledge on the molecular mechanisms that link the HCV life cycle with autophagy machinery. In particular, we discuss the role of HCV/autophagy interaction in dysregulating inflammation and lipid homeostasis and its potential for translational applications in the treatment of HCV-infected patients.
Emerging evidence points to an important role of autophagy in the immune response mediated by dendritic cells (DC) against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Since current vaccination based on Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is unable to stop the tuberculosis epidemic, a deeper comprehension of the alterations induced by Mtb in DC is essential for setting new vaccine strategies. Here, we compared the capacity of virulent (H37Rv) and avirulent (H37Ra) Mtb strains as well as BCG to modulate autophagy in human primary DC. We found that Mtb H37Rv impairs autophagy at the step of autophagosome-lysosome fusion. In contrast, neither Mtb H37Ra nor BCG strains were able to hamper autophagosome maturation. Both these attenuated strains have a functional inhibition of the 6kD early secreted antigenic target ESAT-6, an effector protein of the ESAT-6 Secretion System-1(ESX-1)/type VII secretion system. Notably, the ability to inhibit autophagy was fully restored in recombinant BCG and Mtb H37Ra strains in which ESAT-6 secretion was re-established by genetic complementation using either the ESX-1 region from Mtb (BCG::ESX-1) or the PhoP gene (Mtb H37Ra::PhoP), a regulator of ESAT-6 secretion. Importantly, the autophagic block induced by Mtb was overcome by rapamycin treatment leading to an increased interleukin-12 expression and, in turn, to an enhanced capacity to expand a Th1-oriented response. Collectively, our study demonstrated that Mtb alters the autophagic machinery through the ESX-1 system, and thereby opens new exciting perspectives to better understand the relationship between Mtb virulence and its ability to escape the DC-mediated immune response.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis; BCG; ESX1/type VII secretion system; RD1 region; autophagy; dendritic cells; vaccine
Inhibition of a main regulator of cell metabolism, the protein kinase mTOR, induces autophagy and inhibits cell proliferation. However, the molecular pathways involved in the cross-talk between these two mTOR-dependent cell processes are largely unknown. Here we show that the scaffold protein AMBRA1, a member of the autophagy signalling network and a downstream target of mTOR, regulates cell proliferation by facilitating the dephosphorylation and degradation of the proto-oncogene C-MYC. We found that AMBRA1 favors the interaction between C-MYC and its phosphatase PP2A and that, when mTOR is inhibited, it enhances PP2A activity on this specific target, thereby reducing the cell division rate. As expected, such a de-regulation of C-MYC correlates with increased tumorigenesis in AMBRA1-defective systems, thus supporting a role for AMBRA1 as a haploinsufficient tumour suppressor gene.
cancer; cell cycle; cell metabolism; mTOR; phosphatases
Autophagy and apoptosis are 2 stress-response mechanisms that are closely interconnected. However, the molecular interplays between these 2 pathways remain to be clarified. Here we report that the crucial proautophagic factor AMBRA1 can act as a positive mediator of mitochondrial apoptosis. Indeed, we show that, in a proapoptotic positive feedback loop, the C-terminal part of AMBRA1, generated by CASP/CASPASE cleavage upon apoptosis induction, inhibits the antiapoptotic factor BCL2 by a direct binding through its BH3-like domain. The mitochondrial AMBRA1-BCL2 complex is thus at the crossroad between autophagy and cell death and may represent a novel target in development of therapeutic approaches in clinical diseases.
AMBRA1; apoptosis; autophagy; BCL2; BH3 domain
Autophagy and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress are involved in the development, progression, and chemoresistance of melanoma. We recently reported that oncogenic serine/threonine-protein kinase BRAF induces chronic ER stress, hence increasing baseline autophagy and promoting chemoresistance. The attenuation of ER stress restores basal autophagic activity and resensitizes melanoma cells to apoptosis.
autophagy; BRAF; cancer; ER stress; melanoma
Autophagy is a self-degradative physiological process by which the cell removes worn-out or damaged components. Constant at basal level it may become highly active in response to cellular stress. The type 2 transglutaminase (TG2), which accumulates under stressful cell conditions, plays an important role in the regulation of autophagy and cells lacking this enzyme display impaired autophagy/mitophagy and a consequent shift their metabolism to glycolysis. To further define the molecular partners of TG2 involved in these cellular processes, we analysed the TG2 interactome under normal and starved conditions discovering that TG2 interacts with various proteins belonging to different functional categories. Herein we show that TG2 interacts with pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2), a rate limiting enzyme of glycolysis which is responsible for maintaining a glycolytic phenotype in malignant cells and displays non metabolic functions, including transcriptional co-activation and protein kinase activity. Interestingly, the ablation of PKM2 led to the decrease of intracellular TG2's transamidating activity paralleled by an increase of its tyrosine phosphorylation. Along with this, a significant decrease of ULK1 and Beclin1 was also recorded, thus suggesting a block in the upstream regulation of autophagosome formation. These data suggest that the PKM2/TG2 interplay plays an important role in the regulation of autophagy in particular under cellular stressful conditions such as those displayed by cancer cells.
autophagy; transglutaminase type 2; pyruvate kinase M2; LC3; Beclin1
Recent in vitro studies have suggested that autophagy may play a role in both HIV-1 replication and disease progression. In this study we investigated whether autophagy protects the small proportion of HIV-1 infected individuals who remain clinically stable for years in the absence of antiretroviral therapy, these named long-term nonprogressors (LTNP) and elite controllers (EC). We found that peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of the HIV-1 controllers present a significantly higher amount of autophagic vesicles associated with an increased expression of autophagic markers with respect to normal progressors. Of note, ex vivo treatment of PBMC from the HIV-1 controllers with the MTOR inhibitor rapamycin results in a more efficient autophagic response, leading to a reduced viral production. These data lead us to propose that autophagy contributes to limiting viral pathogenesis in HIV-1 controllers by targeting viral components for degradation.
HIV-1; autophagy; long-term nonprogressors; elite controllers; cell death; AMBRA1; BECN1; ATG5
AMBRA1 is a positive regulator of the BECN1-dependent program of autophagy recently identified in mouse. In this study, we cloned the full-length cDNAs of ambra1a and ambra1b zebrafish paralogous genes. As in mouse, both Ambra1 proteins contain the characteristic WD40 repeat region. The transcripts of both genes are present as maternal RNAs in the eggs and display a gradual decline until 8 hpf, being replaced by zygotic mRNAs from 12 hpf onwards. After 24 hpf, the transcripts are mainly localized in the head, suggesting a possible role in brain development. To check their developmental roles, we adopted morpholino knockdown to block either translation (ATGMOs) or splicing (SPLICMOs). Treatment with ATGMOs causes severe embryonic malformations, as prelarvae could survive for only 3 and 4 days in ambra1a and b morphants, respectively. Treatment with SPLICMOs led to developmental defects only at a late stage, indicating the importance of maternally supplied ambra1 transcripts. Analysis of the levels of Lc3-II, an autophagosome-specific marker, in the presence of lysosome inhibitors evidenced a reduction in the rate of autophagosome formation in both MOs-injected embryos at 48 hpf, more pronounced in the case of ambra1a gene. Although some defects, such as body growth delay, curved shape and hemorrhagic pericardial cavity were present in both morphants, the occurrence of specific phenotypes, such as major abnormalities of brain development in ambra1a morphants, suggests the possible acquisition of specific functions by the two paralogous genes that are both required during development and do not compensate each other following knockdown.
Ambra1; zebrafish; autophagy; development; morpholino
Pseudomonas aeruginosa pathogenic potential is controlled via multiple regulatory pathways, including three quorum sensing (QS) systems. LasR is a key QS signal receptor since it acts as a global transcriptional regulator required for optimal expression of main virulence factors. P. aeruginosa modulates the QS response by integrating this cell density-dependent circuit to environmental and metabolic cues. Hence, QS also controls the adaptation to challenging environmental niches, such as infection sites. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms connecting QS and other signalling pathways. In this work, DNA-affinity chromatography was used to identify new lasR transcriptional regulators. This approach led to the identification and functional characterization of the TetR-like transcriptional repressor PA3699. This protein was purified and shown to directly bind to the lasR promoter region in vitro. The induction of PA3699 expression in P. aeruginosa PAO1 cultures repressed lasR promoter activity and the production of LasR-dependent virulence factors, such as elastase, pyocyanin, and proteases. These findings suggest a role for PA3699 in P. aeruginosa pathogenicity. P. aeruginosa genome encodes at least 38 TetR-family proteins, and PA3699 is the eighth member of this group functionally characterized so far and the first one shown to bind the lasR promoter in vitro.
In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process vs. those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process); thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from stimuli that result in increased autophagic activity, defined as increased autophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with more autophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to monitor autophagy. In these guidelines, we consider these various methods of assessing autophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particular autophagy assays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field.
LC3; autolysosome; autophagosome; flux; lysosome; phagophore; stress; vacuole
Contact with HIV-1 envelope protein elicits release of ATP through pannexin-1 channels on target cells; by activating purinergic receptors and Pyk2 kinase in target cells, this extracellular ATP boosts HIV-1 infectivity.
Extracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) can activate purinergic receptors of the plasma membrane and modulate multiple cellular functions. We report that ATP is released from HIV-1 target cells through pannexin-1 channels upon interaction between the HIV-1 envelope protein and specific target cell receptors. Extracellular ATP then acts on purinergic receptors, including P2Y2, to activate proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 (Pyk2) kinase and transient plasma membrane depolarization, which in turn stimulate fusion between Env-expressing membranes and membranes containing CD4 plus appropriate chemokine co-receptors. Inhibition of any of the constituents of this cascade (pannexin-1, ATP, P2Y2, and Pyk2) impairs the replication of HIV-1 mutant viruses that are resistant to conventional antiretroviral agents. Altogether, our results reveal a novel signaling pathway involved in the early steps of HIV-1 infection that may be targeted with new therapeutic approaches.
When autophagy is induced, ULK1 phosphorylates AMBRA1, releasing the autophagy core complex from the cytoskeleton and allowing its relocalization to the ER membrane to nucleate autophagosome formation.
Autophagy is an evolutionary conserved catabolic process involved in several physiological and pathological processes such as cancer and neurodegeneration. Autophagy initiation signaling requires both the ULK1 kinase and the BECLIN 1–VPS34 core complex to generate autophagosomes, double-membraned vesicles that transfer cellular contents to lysosomes. In this study, we show that the BECLIN 1–VPS34 complex is tethered to the cytoskeleton through an interaction between the BECLIN 1–interacting protein AMBRA1 and dynein light chains 1/2. When autophagy is induced, ULK1 phosphorylates AMBRA1, releasing the autophagy core complex from dynein. Its subsequent relocalization to the endoplasmic reticulum enables autophagosome nucleation. Therefore, AMBRA1 constitutes a direct regulatory link between ULK1 and BECLIN 1–VPS34, which is required for core complex positioning and activity within the cell. Moreover, our results demonstrate that in addition to a function for microtubules in mediating autophagosome transport, there is a strict and regulatory relationship between cytoskeleton dynamics and autophagosome formation.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has evolved complex strategies to evade host immune responses and establish chronic infection. The only treatment available for HCV infections, alpha interferon (IFN-α), is effective in a limited percentage of patients. The mechanisms by which IFN-α interferes with the HCV life cycle and the reasons for limited effectiveness of IFN-α therapy have not yet been fully elucidated. Using a cell-based HCV replication system and specific kinase inhibitors, we examined the role played by various signaling pathways in the IFN-α-mediated HCV clearance. We reported that conventional protein kinase C (cPKC) activity is important for the effectiveness of IFN-α treatment. In cells treated with a cPKC-specific inhibitor, IFN-α failed to induce an efficient HCV RNA degradation. The lack of cPKC activity leads to a broad reduction of IFN-α-stimulated gene expression due to a significant impairment of STAT1 and STAT3 tyrosine phosphorylation. Thus, modulation of cPKC function by either host or viral factors could influence the positive outcome of IFN-α-mediated antiviral therapies.
Phosphorylation at a highly conserved serine residue (Ser-10) in the histone H3 tail is considered to be a crucial event for the onset of mitosis. This modification appears early in the G2 phase within pericentromeric heterochromatin and spreads in an ordered fashion coincident with mitotic chromosome condensation. Mutation of Ser-10 is essential in Tetrahymena, since it results in abnormal chromosome segregation and extensive chromosome loss during mitosis and meiosis, establishing a strong link between signaling and chromosome dynamics. Although mitotic H3 phosphorylation has been long recognized, the transduction routes and the identity of the protein kinases involved have been elusive. Here we show that the expression of Aurora-A and Aurora-B, two kinases of the Aurora/AIK family, is tightly coordinated with H3 phosphorylation during the G2/M transition. During the G2 phase, the Aurora-A kinase is coexpressed while the Aurora-B kinase colocalizes with phosphorylated histone H3. At prophase and metaphase, Aurora-A is highly localized in the centrosomic region and in the spindle poles while Aurora-B is present in the centromeric region concurrent with H3 phosphorylation, to then translocate by cytokinesis to the midbody region. Both Aurora-A and Aurora-B proteins physically interact with the H3 tail and efficiently phosphorylate Ser10 both in vitro and in vivo, even if Aurora-A appears to be a better H3 kinase than Aurora-B. Since Aurora-A and Aurora-B are known to be overexpressed in a variety of human cancers, our findings provide an attractive link between cell transformation, chromatin modifications and a specific kinase system.
Transcription factors of the CREB family control the expression of a large number of genes in response to various signaling pathways. Regulation mediated by members of the CREB family has been linked to various physiological functions. Classically, activation by CREB is known to occur upon phosphorylation at an essential regulatory site (Ser133 in CREB) and the subsequent interaction with the ubiquitous coactivator CREB-binding protein (CBP). However, the mechanism by which selectivity is achieved in the identification of target genes, as well as the routes adopted to ensure tissue-specific activation, remains unrecognized. We have recently described the first tissue-specific coactivator of CREB family transcription factors, ACT (activator of CREM in testis). ACT is a LIM-only protein which associates with CREM in male germ cells and provides an activation function which is independent of phosphorylation and CBP. Here we characterize a family of LIM-only proteins which share common structural organization with ACT. These are referred to as four-and-a-half-LIM-domain (FHL) proteins and display tissue-specific and developmentally regulated expression. FHL proteins display different degrees of intrinsic activation potential. They provide powerful activation function to both CREB and CREM when coexpressed either in yeast or in mammalian cells, specific combinations eliciting selective activation. Deletion analysis of the ACT protein shows that the activation function depends on specific arrangements of the LIM domains, which are essential for both transactivation and interaction properties. This study uncovers the existence of a family of tissue-specific coactivators that operate through novel, CBP-independent routes to elicit transcriptional activation by CREB and CREM. The future identification of additional partners of FHL proteins is likely to reveal unappreciated aspects of tissue-specific transcriptional regulation.
It is commonly accepted that pathways that regulate proliferation/differentiation processes, if altered in their normal interplay, can lead to the induction of programmed cell death. In a previous work we reported that Polyoma virus Large Tumor antigen (PyLT) interferes with in vitro terminal differentiation of skeletal myoblasts by binding and inactivating the retinoblastoma antioncogene product. This inhibition occurs after the activation of some early steps of the myogenic program. In the present work we report that myoblasts expressing wild-type PyLT, when subjected to differentiation stimuli, undergo cell death and that this cell death can be defined as apoptosis. Apoptosis in PyLT-expressing myoblasts starts after growth factors removal, is promoted by cell confluence, and is temporally correlated with the expression of early markers of myogenic differentiation. The block of the initial events of myogenesis by transforming growth factor β or basic fibroblast growth factor prevents PyLT-induced apoptosis, while the acceleration of this process by the overexpression of the muscle-regulatory factor MyoD further increases cell death in this system. MyoD can induce PyLT-expressing myoblasts to accumulate RB, p21, and muscle- specific genes but is unable to induce G00 arrest. Several markers of different phases of the cell cycle, such as cyclin A, cdk-2, and cdc-2, fail to be down-regulated, indicating the occurrence of cell cycle progression. It has been frequently suggested that apoptosis can result from an unbalanced cell cycle progression in the presence of a contrasting signal, such as growth factor deprivation. Our data involve differentiation pathways, as a further contrasting signal, in the generation of this conflict during myoblast cell apoptosis.